U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has said efforts to revive the Indo-Pacific security grouping known as the Quad will help the Washington contain China’s rise.
“We’ve reconvened ‘the Quad’ — the security talks between Japan, Australia, India and the United States that had been dormant for nine years,” Pompeo said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation research group on Tuesday. “This will prove very important in the efforts ahead, ensuring that China retains only its proper place in the world.”
His remarks came in a speech where he also said U.S. President Donald Trump “has changed the global conversation on China” and that Beijing “is a strategic competitor at best that uses coercion and corruption as its tools of statecraft.”
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue involving four democracies is seen as a counter to China’s growing influence in Asia as it spends billions on infrastructure, builds artificial structures in the South China Sea and expands its military power. However, some of the group’s members — particularly India — have occasionally tried to downplay the significance of the group to avoid angering Beijing or alienating countries in Southeast Asia.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has mocked the idea of a unified Indo-Pacific strategy as a “headline-grabbing idea” that will dissipate “like the sea foam in the Pacific or Indian Ocean.”
“The four countries’ official position is that it targets no one,” Wang said in March. “I hope they mean what they say and their action will match their rhetoric. Nowadays, stoking a new Cold War is out of sync with the times and inciting bloc confrontation will find no market.”
In late September, the talks were upgraded from officials to the ministerial level, with Pompeo meeting the four foreign ministers of the Quad nations, including Australia’s Marise Payne, Japan’s Toshimitsu Motegi and India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.